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The joy of participating in Two Oceans

Zimbabwean elite runners, who with hundreds of other running enthusiasts flocked to Cape Town for the events, once again featured highly on the leader boards at Two Oceans 2013.

Outdoors with Rosie Mitchell

In particular, Zimbabweans won both the long (22km) and short (10km) trail runs — warm congratulations to Tarisai Rukadza and Tranquil Gumbo respectively!

While our very talented Stephen Muzhingi who won the 56 km ultra-marathon last year sadly incurred a calf injury in the first 6km and could not successfully defend his title thereafter, he soldiered on regardless and finished with a silver, in a very good 3 hours 27 minutes, coming 34th.

Zimbabweans Collen Makaza came 4th, Mike Fokoroni 10th, Edwin Chimombo 16th and Brighton Chipere 24th while in the women’s ultra, Thabita Tsatsa did Zimbabwe very proud, taking second place, and in the half, Rutendo Nyahora was 6th woman home.

To all Zimbabweans of every speed and ability who trained and ran hard, achieving their own many and varied personal goals by doing so, well done!

For many runners the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is an annual pilgrimage.

Starting in 1970 with 26 runners as a training run for the gruelling 90km Comrades ultra-marathon, this event turns Cape Town each Easter into one of the world’s most popular marathon destinations.

There are now 10 running events on offer, making these expeditions, for many family affairs, in what has become a festival of running and outdoor enjoyment.

Set in this beautiful city and appropriately dubbed “The World’s Most Beautiful Marathon.” It is an annual goal for novice and seasoned runners alike, who usually add a holiday in this city with so much to offer.

Events comprise the 56km ultra- marathon, now in its 44th year, the 21,1 km half-marathon, in its 16th, the 22km long trail run and 10km short trail run, both introduced in 2010, the 5km International Friendship Run, the 2,1km, 5,6km and 8km fun runs, and even a “Toddlers Trot” and “Nappy Dash”!

So children of all ages there with parents running the ultra or half can experience for themselves the excitement of the pre-race line up and thrill of racing over the same finish line as their mums and dads and receiving their own finisher’s medals.

With three Two Oceans half marathons and two 22km trail runs behind me, and having last year tried out and found both possible and enjoyable, running the long trail on the Friday and the half the next day, I feel more of a Two Oceans old hand these days, and am even contemplating the previously unthinkable — tackling the ultra next year! In 2008 The Two Oceans half-marathon was my first ever running event, and a perfect introduction if ever there was one!

Concentration is the key word on trail

The trail runs start at the foot of Table Mountain on the university campus and the atmosphere was very festive indeed!

The 22km trail is so gruelling that had I remembered it in detail, in all its arduously steep, alarmingly precipitous, ankle and foot bending, shin bruising glory from one year to the next, perhaps I’d think twice before taking it on again! I shaved over two minutes off last year’s time, and finished strong, but it was indeed tough!

There are long sections where one trudges up seemingly endless, close to vertically natural “staircases” up Devil’s Peak, others that require actual rock climbing, and others taking you along the edge of precipices where, were you to skid or trip, that would be the end!

Add constantly uneven surfaces, with skiddy gravel, lots of rocks to trip over, scratchy fynbos to push past, squelchy, marshy sections to slide on, precarious stepping stones to hop across and wet rocks to slip on, and this race is no “walk in the park”!

You lose concentration on the track ahead at your own peril! This year, barring a mysterious shin cut and bruise which went unnoticed at the time, I kept my balance and did not fall flat on my face like last year, though there were some close shaves!

Did I enjoy it — well, yes, actually, hard going as it was, it was also exhilarating, with fantastic scenery — albeit, you can’t stop to soak it up and if you get distracted you’re likely to fall — and plenty did!

It was a very festive finish line scene and I was well pleased with my 3 hours 20 minutes. I then subjected myself, as advised, to the torture of an ice bath to speed up the recovery of my fiercely exercised legs, in preparation for the next onslaught — the half-marathon. This worked well, noticeably lessening the unavoidable stiffness and pain following a big race.

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